When you set a goal, and you stick with it long enough, the goal lingers and whether you want to or not, you work on it little by little. That’s the great thing with SMART goals, in that whether you meet the deadline or not, you’re probably going to achieve it. No matter how hard it is, setting goals is probably one of the most important things you can do for yourself.
Last week, I talked about buying a 5 subject notebook and dedicating that first section to making yearly goals. What I’ve done is set 10 goals and allowed myself a deadline for each within the next twelve months to finish them. When you set a goal, the best thing to do is to set them the SMART way. In case you don’t know by now:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Relevant
T – Timely
The first thing you have to do is make it specific. A general goal would be something simple like “Make money”. But what does that mean? If you have a job, you already make money, but there’s no amount specifically and the words “make money” won’t make anyone achieve anything bigger. Do those words really motivate anyone? A specific goal is clear and will make someone work hard for it.
The second element is measurable. Measurable means you have something to work towards. If we go back to the “Make Money” goal, this part will allow you to answer “how much”. So instead of “Make money”, let’s state “to make $45,000 with my job.” Now you have something to work towards and the question becomes “How do I make $45,000 with my job?” Now you have a goal that is measurable and more specific.
The third part is asking yourself whether your goal is achievable. For someone that is making $40,000, a goal of making five thousand dollars more isn’t really unrealistic. It can be achieved. But if you’re already looking for a six figure income at this point, you may be setting your goals too high and when you do that, you start losing motivation to want to achieve your goals. And with no motivation comes dejection and failure. So it’s important that one sets a goal that is as realistic as possible.
The next thing – the ‘R’ in SMART – is making your goal relevant. Simply put, why is it that you want to “make $45,000 at your job.” Is it because you have an absolute need for it or just because you want to make more money than another person? Is it because you care or because you’ve been told “more money is better”? Make sure you are absolutely passionate about achieving your goal. If you’re struggling to make ends meet, making more money is going to be very important to you and that’s why it would be relevant to you. You want to make sure you want to keep going forward with your goal.
Finally, your goal needs to be associated with time. When I was in school, the one thing that always kept me on track was the fact that I only had a certain period of time to finish my assignment. If I knew a homework assignment was due soon, I had to scramble sometimes to finish it. Goals also need to have a deadline so we make an effort to finish it as soon as possible. “To make $45,000 at my job by September 30, 2018”. Now you have a deadline to go for and it allows you to continually check your progress, especially as you get closer to that deadline.
There is one other thing to mention about these goals. They should be SMART, but they should also allow you to attain some kind of balance in life. To do that, you don’t want to set goals all in the same area. Depending on whom you follow (if anyone), there are either 7 or 9 areas to set goals (listed below.) I like to set goals in different areas, so I’m not finding myself getting overwhelmed. Some of them will cross over to other areas. A lot of my financial life has to do with my career. My relationship with my wife also concerns my family and so on.
- Personal Development
Your first challenge was easy – to buy a 5 subject notebook. It’s cheap and affordable and will do what most planners can do as well. If you have accomplished that, it’s time for your second challenge.
Challenge #2: Make a list of 10 goals you would like to achieve in the next calendar year. Make sure you use the SMART formula and balance them by setting them in one of the nine areas. Also, when you set them, keep them in the present tense. In parentheses, follow them with two numbers…the first number is sequence, the second number is priority.
EXAMPLE: I make $45,000 at my job by September 30, 2018. (2, 1)
That means that this specific goal is second in sequential order, but my top priority.
Next week: How to get started on a yearly goal.